A win continues to elude Football Whanganui as they were crushed 6-1 by Palmerston North Marist Women's Reserves yesterday.
Fresh from earning their first point of the GR Engineering Women's Federation League with a draw against New Plymouth Girls High School, Whanganui would have been hoping to at least push the visitors close in their first match back at Wembley Park since early June.
Instead, Marist's win means they jump up two places to second on the ladder, nine point behind leaders Taradale AFC, while Whanganui languish at the bottom with three games remaining in the season.
But among Marist's scoring, which came in quick two-goal bursts, there were some positive signs for Whanganui.
They started with well worked move between Vanya Hodgkinson, Dana McClelland and Arini Ross-Spooner - the latter a standout up front throughout the match and working tirelessly to hunt out small opportunities when they came.
But a double blow in the 4th and 8th minute, with goals to Marist's Madison Keightley and Kate Mori, set Whanganui back.
They did manage to settle play down and after that and looked bright at times.
And they even got themselves back in the match when Lexi Maples was put in space down the left hand side of the field to shoot nicely past the Marist keeper.
Whanganui were often competitive in holding Marist out over the next 25 minutes and deserved to be only one behind at halftime.
But they switched off in the final few minutes of the half when Charlotte Noakes extended Marist's lead two minutes from the break and Jessie Auckram got the first goal of her seven-minute hat trick for a 4-1 halftime lead.
Any hopes of a comeback for the home side were crushed by Auckram, who had bagged her second and third goals by the 51st minute.
Whanganui will be pleased they were able to play the next 40 minutes without conceeding - helped by goal keeper Megan O'Connor who made a handful of strong saves - and to have played some good football of their own.
Things don't get easier for the composite Whanganui side.
Next up is Taradale AFC, who can wrap up the league with a win at Wembley Park weekend.
"We'd like to spoil their day," Whanganui coach Symon King said.
"We've got two training sessions and we're going to work very hard on our defensive shape and our creative play, playing into midfield."
King put the loss down to sloppy defending and his side moving away from what they had planned.
"I thought we started the game quite brightly and we stuck to our game plan quite well," he said.
"We conceded what I think was a soft goal just because of the speed of our play, got back into the game at 2-1 and then we just didn't follow the game plan again.
"It should've been 2-1 at half time, we fell asleep."
King said the plan was to play the ball to feet but that went wayward too often.
"We tried to force it down the wings and go longer rather than playing to feet," he said.
"Once we stopped playing to feet we lost our shape.
"It doesn't help when they come back out after the break and the first thing we do is two defenders miss a ball and we were just always chasing the game.
"We just never looked like we were in it, not at the races."
King was pleased with the performances of Ross-Spooner, Maples and Amelia Smith.
"Lexi scored a very good goal, good finish."
Whanganui host Taradale at Wembley Park on Sunday before travelling to New Plymouth to take on Moturoa AFC, and then the final game against second-to-bottom Port Hill United.